Jayne Ann Krentz Trust No One

ISBN 13: 9780515155815

Trust No One

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9780515155815: Trust No One

The author of River Road and Dream Eyes delivers another masterpiece of romantic suspense...
 
When Grace Elland finds her boss, motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon, murdered, a vodka bottle on his nightstand is a terrifying reminder of the horrors of her past—one that can be no coincidence.
 
To regroup, Grace retreats to her childhood home, Cloud Lake, where she meets venture capitalist Julius Arkwright, a man who lives to make money, by any means necessary. But the intense former Marine has skills that Grace can use—to figure out her future. And he’s the perfect man to help Grace when it becomes clear she is being stalked.
 
As Witherspoon’s financial empire continues to crumble around them, taking a deadly toll, Julius will walk Grace step by step into her past to uncover a devious plan to destroy not only Grace, but everyone around her as well...

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About the Author:

Jayne Ann Krentz is the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. She has written contemporary romantic suspense novels under that name, as well as futuristic and historical romance novels under the pseudonyms Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick, respectively. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

One

The note pinned to the front of the dead man’s silk pajamas was a one-sentence email printed out from a computer: Make Today a Great Day the Witherspoon Way.

Grace Elland leaned over the blood-soaked sheets and forced herself to touch the cold skin of Sprague Witherspoon’s throat. His blue eyes, once so brilliant and compelling, were open. He stared sightlessly at the bedroom ceiling. A robust, square-jawed man with a mane of silver hair, he had always seemed larger-than-life. But death had shrunk him. All of the charm and electrifying charisma that had captivated the Witherspoon Way seminar audiences across the country had been drained away.

She was certain that he had been gone for several hours but she thought she detected a faint, accusing question in his unseeing eyes. Shattering memories splintered through her. At the age of sixteen she had seen the same question in the eyes of a dead woman. Why didn’t you get here in time to save me?

She looked away from the dead eyes—and saw the unopened bottle of vodka on the nightstand.

For a terrible moment past and present merged there in the bedroom. She heard the echo of heavy footsteps on old floorboards. Panic threatened to choke her. This could not be happening, not again. It’s the old dream, she thought. You’re in the middle of a nightmare but you’re awake. Breathe. Focus, damn it, and breathe.

Breathe.

The mantra broke the panic-induced trance. The echoing footsteps faded into the past. Ice-cold adrenaline splashed through her veins, bringing with it an intense clarity. This was not a dream. She was in a room with a dead man and, although she was almost certain that the footsteps had been summoned up from her nightmare, there was still the very real possibility that the killer was still around.

She grabbed the nearest available weapon—the vodka bottle—and moved to the doorway. There she paused to listen intently. The big house felt empty. Perhaps the footsteps had been an auditory illusion generated by the panicky memories. Or not. Either way, the smart thing to do was get out of the mansion and call 911.

She moved into the hallway, trying to make as little noise as possible. A fog of shadows darkened the big house. There were elegant potted plants everywhere—vibrant green bamboo, palms and ferns. Sprague had firmly believed that the abundant foliage not only improved indoor air quality, but enhanced the positive energy in the atmosphere.

The curtains that covered the windows had been closed for the night. No one had been alive to draw them back that morning. Not that it would have done much good. The Seattle winter dawn had arrived with a low, overcast sky and now rain was tapping at the windows. On days like this, most people turned on a few lights.

No one rushed out of a doorway to confront her. Gripping the neck of the vodka bottle very tightly, she went down the broad staircase. When she reached the bottom, she flew across the grand living room.

She knew her way around the first floor of the house because Sprague Witherspoon had entertained lavishly and often. He always invited Grace and the other members of the Witherspoon Way staff to his catered affairs.

The vast great room had been furnished and decorated with those events in mind. The chairs, cushioned benches and tables were arranged in what designers called conversational groupings. There was a lot of expensive art on the walls.

Sprague Witherspoon had lived the lifestyle he had tried to teach in his seminars, and the motivational business had been good to him. With Sprague it had been all about positive thinking and an optimistic attitude.

But now someone had murdered him.

She whipped through the front door and out into the beautifully manicured gardens. She did not stop to pull up the hood of her jacket. By the time she reached her little compact waiting in the sweeping circular driveway her hair and face were soaked.

She got behind the wheel, locked all of the doors, put the vodka bottle on the floor and gunned the engine. She drove through the high steel gates that guarded the Queen Anne mansion and out onto the quiet residential street.

Once outside the grounds she brought the car to a halt and reached into her cross-body bag for her phone. It proved amazingly difficult to enter 911 because her hands were shaking so hard. When she finally got through to the operator she had to close her eyes in order to concentrate on getting the facts straight.

Breathe.

“Sprague Witherspoon is dead.” She watched the big gates while she rattled off the address. “At least, I think he’s dead. I couldn’t find a pulse. It looks like he’s been shot. There is . . . a lot of blood.”

More memories flashed through her head. A man with a face rendered into a bloody mask. Blood raining down on her. Blood everywhere.

“Is there anyone else in the house, ma’am?” The male operator’s voice was sharp and urgent. “Are you in danger?”

“I don’t think so. I’m outside now. A few minutes ago I went in to check on Mr. Witherspoon because he didn’t show up at the office this morning. The gates were open and the front door was unlocked. The alarm was off. I didn’t think anything about it because I assumed he was out in the gardens. When I couldn’t find him outside, I went into the house. I called out to him. When he didn’t respond I worried that he had fallen or become ill. He lives alone, you see, and—”

Shut up, Grace. You’re rambling. You must stay focused. You can have a panic attack later.

“Stay outside,” the operator said. “I’ve got responders on the way.”

“Yes, all right.”

Grace ended the connection and listened to the sirens in the distance.

It wasn’t until the first vehicle bearing the logo of the Seattle Police Department came to a stop in front of her car that she remembered a fact that everyone who watched television crime dramas knew well. When it came to suspects, cops always looked hard at the person who found the body.

She had a feeling that the investigators would look even more closely at a suspect who had a history of stumbling over dead bodies.

Breathe.

She looked down at the bottle sitting on the floor of her car. Dread iced her blood.

Don’t panic. A lot of people drink vodka.

But the only things she had ever seen Sprague drink were green tea and expensive white wine.

She found a tissue in her bag and used it to pick up the bottle. Not that it mattered much now. Her fingerprints were all over it.

Two

Isuppose the three of us can only be thankful that we’ve all got reasonably good alibis,” Millicent Chartwell said. She sank languidly against the back of the booth and regarded her martini with a forlorn expression. “I didn’t like the way that cute detective was watching me today when I gave my statement.”

“He wasn’t exactly smiling at me,” Grace said. She took a sip of her white wine. “In fact, if I weren’t the optimistic type, I’d say he was looking for an excuse to arrest me for Sprague’s murder.”

Kristy Forsyth put down her wineglass. Tears glittered in her eyes. “I can’t believe Mr. Witherspoon is gone. I keep thinking there must have been a horrible case of mistaken identity and that he’ll come striding through the door of the office tomorrow morning the way he always does, with some fresh-baked scones or doughnuts for us.”

“There was no mistake,” Grace said. “I saw him. And Nyla Witherspoon identified her father’s body. I was still at the house talking to the police when she arrived on the scene. She was seriously distraught. In tears. Shaky. Honestly, I thought she was going to faint.”

It was just after five o’clock. The three of them were exhausted and, Grace knew, still dazed. A close encounter with murder had an unnerving effect on most people. She and her office colleagues had not only lost a great boss, they had just lost their jobs. They were all of the opinion that working for the Witherspoon Way had been the best thing that had ever happened to them, career-wise. Their lives had been turned upside down by Sprague’s murder.

After giving their statements, Millicent had suggested going for a drink. There was unanimous agreement. They were now seated in a booth in their favorite after-work spot, a cozy tavern and café near the Pike Place Market.

The day was ending the way it had begun, with rain and gloom. The winter solstice had passed a few weeks earlier. The days were becoming perceptibly longer—Seattleites were keen observers of the nuances in the ever-changing patterns of sunlight—but the early evening twilight made it seem as if it was still December on the calendar.

Millicent sipped her martini and narrowed her eyes. “If I were the police, the first suspect on my list would be Nyla Witherspoon.”

As Sprague’s bookkeeper and financial manager, Millicent had a tendency to go straight to the bottom line, regardless of the subject. She was a vivacious, curvy redhead with a taste for martinis and the occasional bar hookup.

Millicent had been working for Sprague for nearly a year before Grace had joined the Witherspoon Way team. On the surface, she seemed to have it all—film star–level glamour and a computer for a brain. She had used both to make her way in the world. What Millicent did not have was a family. Her past was murky. She did not like to discuss it. But she had once said that she left home at the age of sixteen and had no intention of ever returning. She was a survivor. In spite of the odds against her, she had landed adroitly on her stiletto heels.

Kristy blinked away a few more tears. “Nyla does have the most to gain from Sprague’s death, doesn’t she? But she’s his daughter, for heaven’s sake. We all know that she had issues with him. It was a troubled relationship. Still, murdering her father?”

Kristy was the most recent member of the Witherspoon team. Born and raised in a small town in Idaho, she had moved to Seattle in search of adventure and—as she had explained to Grace and Millicent—more options in husbands. With her light brown hair, warm eyes and pretty features, she was attractive in a sweet, wholesome way that went down well with the Witherspoon clients.

Unlike Millicent, Kristy was close to her family. Although she had confided to her coworkers that she did not want to marry a farmer, it was clear that she had a deep and abiding affection for the bucolic world she had left behind. She was forever regaling the office staff with humorous stories about growing up on a farm.

Grace and Millicent had privately speculated that Sprague had felt sorry for Kristy, who had found herself struggling in the big city. Perhaps giving her a job had been, in part, an act of kindness back at the beginning. But somewhat to everyone’s amazement, Kristy had quickly displayed an invaluable flair for travel logistics and an ability to charm clients. As the demand for Witherspoon Way seminars had grown, so had the work involved in coordinating Sprague’s busy schedule. Business had been so brisk lately that Sprague had been on the verge of hiring an assistant for Kristy.

“It wouldn’t be the first time an heir has hurried things along,” Millicent pointed out. “Besides, we know that Nyla was furious with Sprague. They argued constantly. Things between them only got worse when Mr. Perfect came along. Sprague didn’t approve of him and that just made Nyla angrier. I think she was ready to do just about anything to get her hands on her inheritance. She hated Sprague for putting her on an allowance.”

“Well, she is an adult, not a child,” Grace pointed out.

“If you ask me, she decided she didn’t want to wait any longer for the money,” Millicent said. She swallowed some more of her martini, lowered the glass and fixed Grace and Kristy with a grim expression. “I think there’s something else we should keep in mind.”

Kristy frowned. “What?”

Millicent plucked the little plastic spear out of the martini and munched the olive. “It’s true that Nyla had issues with her father but she wasn’t very fond of the three of us, either. We had better watch our backs.”

Kristy’s eyes widened. “Jeez, you’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Oh, yeah,” Millicent said.

Grace picked up her glass and took a sip. The wine was starting to soften the edgy sensation that had been riding her hard all day but she knew from experience that the effects would not last. She told herself to think positive but she had a bad feeling that the old dream would return that night.

She studied Millicent. “Do you really think Nyla is a threat?”

Millicent shrugged. “I’m just saying it would be a good idea to be careful for a while. I’m telling you, Nyla Witherspoon is unstable. She and Sprague had what can only be called a fraught relationship but the capper was the new fiancé.”

“Burke Marrick,” Kristy said. She made a face. “AKA Mr. Perfect.”

“You know what?” Millicent said. “Burke Marrick was Sprague’s worst nightmare. Sprague was always worried that some good-looking, fast-talking con man would come along and sweep Nyla off her feet. Why do you think Sprague insisted on paying her bills and keeping her on an allowance? He was trying to protect her.”

Kristy sniffed. “Small countries could live on Nyla’s allowance.”

“The actual amount is beside the point.” Millicent aimed the olive spear at Kristy. “If there’s one thing I know, it’s money, and I know how people react to it. Trust me, no one ever thinks they have enough. Nyla couldn’t stand the thought that the bulk of her inheritance was tied up in a special trust that she could not access until her father’s death. And I’ve got a hunch Mr. Perfect was pushing her hard to get ahold of the money.”

A grim silence settled on the table. Grace reflected on the fact that they had all had their run-ins with Sprague’s temperamental daughter. Nyla had seemed jealous of the three of them. Now she would have her inheritance to go with her charming fiancé. From a certain perspective, life was suddenly looking quite rosy for Nyla. And for Mr. Perfect.

Grace cleared her throat. “You do realize what you’re saying, Millicent. If you’re right, that means that Burke Marrick is also a suspect.”

Kristy put her glass down very quickly. “What if Nyla and Burke planned Sprague’s murder together?”

Millicent shrugged. “Wouldn’t surprise me.”

“I think we had better hold off on the conspiracy theories,” Grace said. “If you’re going to make a list of suspects, you’ll need a really big sheet of paper.”

Kristy and Millicent looked at her.

“What do you mean?” Kristy asked. “Sprague was so nice. So generous.”

Understanding gleamed in Millicent’s eyes. “You’re right, Grace. After Nyla and Marrick, the next name on the list just has to be Larson Rayner.”

“We all know there was not a lot of positive energy lost between Larson and Sprague,” Grace said. “Nothing like a falling-out between business partners to create motive.”

“That’s true,” Kristy said. “Remember how Larson stormed into the office last month and accused Sprague of stealing his clients?”

“Professional envy and a strong dose of jealousy, not to mention a decline in revenues.” Millicent smiled. Her green eyes gleamed. “Great motives for murder.” She lo...

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Descripción Berkley Books, 2016. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The author of River Road and Dream Eyes delivers another masterpiece of romantic suspense. When Grace Elland finds her boss, motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon, murdered, a vodka bottle on his nightstand is a terrifying reminder of the horrors of her past--one that can be no coincidence. To regroup, Grace retreats to her childhood home, Cloud Lake, where she meets venture capitalist Julius Arkwright, a man who lives to make money, by any means necessary. But the intense former Marine has skills that Grace can use--to figure out her future. And he s the perfect man to help Grace when it becomes clear she is being stalked. As Witherspoon s financial empire continues to crumble around them, taking a deadly toll, Julius will walk Grace step by step into her past to uncover a devious plan to destroy not only Grace, but everyone around her as well. Nº de ref. de la librería LIB9780515155815

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Descripción Berkley Books, 2016. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The author of River Road and Dream Eyes delivers another masterpiece of romantic suspense. When Grace Elland finds her boss, motivational speaker Sprague Witherspoon, murdered, a vodka bottle on his nightstand is a terrifying reminder of the horrors of her past--one that can be no coincidence. To regroup, Grace retreats to her childhood home, Cloud Lake, where she meets venture capitalist Julius Arkwright, a man who lives to make money, by any means necessary. But the intense former Marine has skills that Grace can use--to figure out her future. And he s the perfect man to help Grace when it becomes clear she is being stalked. As Witherspoon s financial empire continues to crumble around them, taking a deadly toll, Julius will walk Grace step by step into her past to uncover a devious plan to destroy not only Grace, but everyone around her as well. Nº de ref. de la librería BTE9780515155815

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